Construction industry posts small job gains in May

Weak construction job growth in May was part of national softening in jobs
(Photo: Convisum, Dreamstime)

The construction industry added few jobs in May, ticking up by just 4,000 following April’s 30,000 gain, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the last 12 months, the industry has added 215,000 jobs.

[Related: Residential construction jobs slow in April]

Declines in residential building construction, and heavy and civil engineering, resulted in May’s small net gain. Specialty trades enjoyed the largest gains, adding a total 12,900 jobs, over 5,000 of which were among residential trades. With the losses in the residential building construction sector, total residential jobs increased by 5,200.

Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, pointed out on Twitter that May’s meager increase in jobs is part of a nationwide softening in job gains. Overall, unemployment remained at 3.6% in May.

Average weekly hours worked for the construction industry was unchanged in May at 39.1 hours, but down slightly from last May’s average of 39.5 hours.

Average hourly earnings increased from $30.60 to $30.68 in May, and is up from $29.72 a year ago. By comparison, average hourly earnings was $27.83 for total private industry in May, and $28.89 for the goods-producing sector.

Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, called on Congress to boost investments in technical education.

“Federal officials can help bring new workers into the construction industry so firms can keep pace with demand,” he said in a statement. “Funding more career and technical education programs is a proven way to expose more young adults to the many high-paying career opportunities available in this industry.”

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